The U.S. Army has issued a directive on grooming and appearance regulations that allows observant Sikh men and conservative Muslim women to wear religious head coverings.
The policy, announced Tuesday, also permits Sikh soldiers to maintain their beards and female soldiers to wear their hair in dreadlocks.
“The Army has reviewed its policies to ensure soldiers can serve in a manner consistent with their faith so that we can recruit from the broadest pool of America’s best,” Obama’s Army Secretary Eric Fanning said in a statement.
“Over the last year, the Army conducted rigorous evaluation and validation of how commonly requested accommodations would impact force effectiveness,” Fanning said. “Our goal has always been to ensure soldier readiness and safety while providing reasonable accommodations for these established and recognized faith practices.”
The changes come after West Point graduate and Bronze Star recipient Capt. Simratpal Singh filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department in 2016. Singh was permitted to wear the beard and turban in the Army until a ban was imposed in the 1980s, according to the Army Times.
However, some disagree. The military code had no exceptions, and soldiers knew what they were signing up for. If these exceptions are made for Muslims and Sikhs, where does it stop?